Thursday, April 4, 2019

Gloggular OSRic Parasite Challenge: Umbrant

Last minutes submission into the Parasite challenge. I would come up with a nice lore introduction, but I don't know where they come from, just what they are.


A: Shade, Puppet, Lend Power
B: Curse Eater
C: Unintrusive, Call the Shadow
D: Embrace Night

For each Umbrant template you get +1 Stealth.

Note: You eat rations at the same rate as anyone else, but instead of physical food you need to use your various abilities.

Shade: You don’t have a physical existence in the traditional sense, but neither do you act as a normal shadow. Your form doesn’t stretch or warp based on lighting conditions, and the depth of your form is relative to your Constitution and Charisma, while the area you occupy is relative to your current HP. You can’t interact with physical objects, but you can interact with their shadows as if they were and this will affect the object that’s being interacted with. For example, if you punch the someone’s shadow, they will feel being punched.

Physically attacking you does nothing unless it’s magical or able to harm ghosts. Sudden bright lights that disturb your silhouette deal damage to you as an explosion of that size and shadows of objects affect you physically. So the shadow of sword is a danger to your well being. In complete darkness you cannot move but can’t be effected or seen by nearly anything.

Puppet: You can burrow into a target’s shadow. If the target isn’t willing than you need to successfully grapple it into submission first, if they still resist than the struggle will deal 1d6 damage as you enter. Their your Host now. Their shadow will deepen and widen to accommodate your mass, but will react to light as a normal shadow. You can hear their surface thoughts, project your own surface thoughts into them, and eat one of their Charisma to have lunch. You can puppet them and they can puppet you, disagreements are resolved with opposed Strength checks.

Lend Power: If you allow it, your Host can use your Attributes instead of theirs own or none-Umbrant Abilities.

Curse Eater: If a curse or dark influence hangs over your Host, you can sense it. If you can call it by it’s name than you can force it to manifest as a second shadow which you can now interact with as with any other shadow. If you manage to kill it, you can eat it to sate you for d6 per HD/level or what have you days.

Unintrusive: You can burrow into shadows without the target noticing, as long as they are not paying attention to their shadow.

Call the Shadow: If your Host allows it, and only if your Host allows it, you can call their Id to manifest as a second shadow. The Id will merge back into the Host after a couple hours, but before than all three are able to communicate directly. If you eat your Host’s Id they loss 1d6 in all three mental attributes and something truly irreplaceable. They will live, but as a husk. The Attributes they lost will go sustain like Charisma gotten from Puppet.

Embrace Night: Darkness no longer prevents you from moving. You are free as freely as a fish swims through water and can choose to interact with shadows as either solid or medium.

Design Notes:
Something I've noticed about many of the other parasite classes is that a lot of them are closer to symbiot in function. Which makes sense because a truly parasitic class would either have to consist of unfun PvP or game of "how do we get away with hireling exploitation?" So what I decided to do is to allow this class both help and harm people and the choice between being a parasite or being symbiot is one you make in game on a case by case basis. Of course Umbrants aren't going to harm players bu the same code of conduct that players don't stab each other, but with NPCs you could have interesting interactions. Umbrants can be seen as monsters or healers and both views are perfectly valid. There is space for interesting ethical conundrums, which is one of the things that interest me in rpgs.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

The Power of Names

On the OSR discord I had some musings on a leveling system where you gain levels when you gain a name. From there I started brewing ideas for it.

The Bestowing of Names

When you receive a Name you gain a feature, increase your HP by 1d6 and roll you're attributes. If you roll above an attribute, increase it by 1.

Any nickname, title, honorific or what have you cane be a Name if it has the right power behind it. This power can come from several sources.The feature can get from a Name must be thematically appropriate. You can't give you're self a Name.

  • Gaining a reputation in a sizable town that most of the population knows about.
  • Having you're current reputation in a sizable town be overshadowed by something else.
  • Gaining a noble title.
  • Rituals a union of like-minded individuals are employing upon you. (literally Union Rituals but with added titles.)
  • With a month of time and instruction from a master.
  • Magic can bestow a name on you, but at what cost.
  • Dragons can give you Names simply by calling you something, you generally don't want this to happen.

You start the game with two names. One is you're True Name which allows you to have an Identity and a second one based on you're background.

Names can be bestowed on a group of people like an adventuring party, in which case everyone in that group will gain a Name relating to that shared group's identity. People keep group Names if they stop being active members, but lose them if they separate themselves from the group. New members don't get the Names associated with their group by default.


One straight forward way to get a name is to find out what the largest most impressive thing to do in a particular town is and do it. This can mean slaying the local dragon, going in and out of a near by hell-hole in one piece. It doesn't have to be something the town will like either, you can burn down the orphanage or pee on the mayor and that will give you a Name, it will however start showing up on wanted posters thought. The feature you gain from a Name can be a disadvantage and will always reflect the act that caused the name so be weary of that.

You don't actually have to do anything cool or impressive, you just need to get a town to believe you did something impressive. This is it's own challenge because if you steal credit for something than you have to deal with whoever you stole credit from, if you want to orchestrate a crisis that you can come in to save, that also takes effort and has plenty of opportunities where it can fail. If you are found out than you might gain the Name of Lier, Charlatan or something similar, which will increase you're stats but also give you the special feature of "can't tell the blunt truth", instead of something beneficial. As it can't be a name you've given your self, you can't just waltz into town claiming to be The Dragonslayer, you need to get npcs to start calling you the Dragonslayer of their own accord.

There is also a natural ceiling to how many Names you can get, because once a town has a Name for you it will continue referring to you by that name. If you want a new Name from somewhere that you already got a Name at, you need to do something bigger than what you did previously or something more scandalous. So you're best to increase you're power and renown is to either traveling from town to town preforming great deeds or preforming strategically large and larger deeds in a single town over a large time. Also if you have a wanted poster hanging up in every village, you're growth will be stifled because everyone in the region will refer to you by your outlaw Name, this is intentional on the part of the government. Also people will treat you with suspicious if you don't give you're name unless are immediately offering to solve whatever local problem the people here are having.

Professional Secrets

All specialized skills that would require yo go to a college or become an apprentice to a master also have require Name, which you get either with you're diploma or from you're master once you're ready. Thus, all blacksmiths have the Name of Smith and the Dr. of a doctor has metaphysical power behind it. This applies to magic users as well, and the difference between casters and carpenters is one of degree than of kind. Making any craft from a sword to a table is as much an enchantment as cursing someone, except the power is infused slower and subtly over a longer period of time, making it more reliable, stable and not dispellable. The smith also won't age rapidly from creating a fine weapon, at most he get's tired from it*.

Gaining levels doesn't make to much sense if you look closely at it in many rpgs. Into The Odd handily solves that problem by throwing the concept out all together**, but it also means that it doesn't have a handy way to represent characters gaining new skills. You could simply rule that you use downtime to learn something, but than there's still a little voice in my mind bugging me how this isn't representative of reality if I feel the times it takes to learn things are off. So my solution is to make my elfgame not work like reality but by something like story logic.


Incantation has two requirements that need to be filled for it to work. First you can only target specific Names, and second the incantation needs to be successfully communicated. It can be communicated in any way, from speech to writing to interpretive dance as long as the recipient of it is able to understand it.

Unwilling targets of incantations get Will saves. Except it they are unstable and you use their True Name.

Sigils are specially prepared symbols that can store Names within them, unlike normal speech or writing that reference Names. Traditionally they are placed in scrolls or runes but it varies from culture to culture. If a nobody(see Lost Names) comes in contact with it than they will get that name instantly.

Due to the first requirement, you usually can only use your magic on specific individuals or the first member of a certain group or profession as those most often share names, and it's really difficult to incant animals or foreigners. If an incantation doesn't find a valid target, it will float around in the either indefinitely until it does.

Incantation can change mutate or corrupt the Names and their meanings or features, it's much to crude for that. The subtle art of storytelling is what can do that.

Stable beings are defined as those that aren't unstable. Unstable beings are ghosts, demons, magic users, illusions, gods, and people under great amounts of mental duress.


You can command someone to do something within their power as long as it doesn't go against one of their Names. For stable beings this costs 1 attribute point, for unstable beings it costs 1 HP. If you have their True Name you only need to spend 1 HP to compel stable beings, nothing to compel unstable beings.

Generally killing friends and family goes against most people's True Names, and acting against a person's core values, and there would be more restrictions based on the more Names someone has. People however have no mystical obligation to follow their Names. There are no incantations that can force a Doctor to break the Hippocratic oath, but the same Doctor can commit as much malpractice as their free will or the Shadow Caster standing over their shoulder desires.

Demon Names are generally not meant for this plane of existence, so despite how they would things like things to go, they can be compelled to banish themselves from this world. Very pious people can compel demons without any formal training to the annoyance of formally trained incanters.


You can move a Name from one place to another. For 1 HP you can swap two Names, for 1d6 HP you can move one Name from one target to another. You cant Shift to and from any valid Incantation target, yourself and sigils. Names can be shifted from sigils to people without expending any HP.

Acts attributed to someone with a specific Name will be remembered as having happened to the person who currently has that Name. So if John the Dragonslayer, has is second Name stolen by Jill the Witch, every will remember Jill slaying that dragon instead of John. Observant and informed people can recognize that these memories are false fairly quickly. John and Jill both know that Jill didn't slay the dragon, but Bob who lives across town might not notice the change in memory, especially if the event happened a while ago.


You can give someone a new Name or place one into a sigil. If you spend 1 HP you create a weak False Name that lasts until it's exposed to doubt about it's reality or the target falls asleep. False Names don't effect attributes or HP, but can change . If you spend 1 Attribute point than you can create a strong False Name that exists until a mystical condition is fulfilled. You can give someone a real Name by burning 2 max attribute points.


You can make weak False Names disappear with barely a thought. You can erase a strong False Name by spending 1 HP, and preforming some gestures in reference to it's mystical condition. You can annihilate a real Name by burning 1 max attribute point.


By spending 1 HP you can call a creature to you. If they are stable beings than they will feel that they now know where you are, how to get there and have the desire to get there. If they are unstable they will instantly appear before you.

You can set a Name you have to allow others to use this ability on you. You can prevent being teleported from this, if you're not being called by an incanter.

Demons are always pressing in from the other side waiting and listening, so calling them is easy.

Lost Names

When you lose you're name bad things can happen. If you lose a name that isn't you're True Name than you're not that messed up. You lose the feature you gained from that Name, you lose 1d6 max HP, and 1 max attribute from the attribute most relevant to that Name, or a random one if none make sense. Everyone(including you) will have a hard time remembering things relating to you and that Name, you don't lose any memories they are just more difficult o access. Like trying to find old things in the attic, it's there but you need to spend a bunch of time or get outside help to get in. You are weaker than you once were, but you remain yourself.

Yes this can mean that you lose attributes and HP amounts that are entirely different from what you gained from that Name. I don't mind this, and even like that someone who lost a Name is diffrent from how they were before they had that Name. If it bothers you than write down the HP and Attribute gained next to each Name.

If you lose you're True Name than everything than all the same rules apply except the feature you lost is having a living and flexible human identity. Without it you have to make due with the other names you have, meaning that you can only be related to in terms of those other Names. So if John the Blacksmith lost the name John, he would just be the Blacksmith and would only be able to interact with the world in terms of worked and unworked metal, hammer and tongs, iron and steel. His ability to form and maintain relationships that don't relate with his craft would cease, but he still has human social needs despite not being able to put into words that he has them or having the concept of self necessary to understand that he has them. Those with multiple Names are have to consciously switch between them as the True Name is what keeps all the parts of the mind running cohesively between each other. So if the Blacksmith who was once john is the Blacksmith Dragonslayer, and a conversation about anvils changed into a conversation about dragons, he'd have to pause a moment to do so, and his posture will viably change from that of a reserved and careful Blacksmith to that of a triumphant and devious Dragonslayer. If you don't have a unique Name than  magic that tries to track you might pick up someone with a similar Name instead, so divining for the Blacksmith can result you the one who was john or any other Blacksmith instead.

If you lose all you're Names, than you become a nobody. Everyone who knows, loves and hates you has forgotten who you are beyond a vague impression, a stranger even to you're self. You cannot be tracked by sorcery or by hound. You're footprints are not footprints, they are just indents in the ground. The sounds you're mouth produces are understood to be words only when attention isn't payed attention to them. A bored merchant can accept your money and give you goods, and people will respond when you greet them but not much else. You are also free to go anywhere without being questioned and do anything without being recognized for it later. Cats, children and madman can recognize you thought, the first because the rules don't apply to them and the later to because they don't grokk how the world works, and because they can recognize you they can name you giving you a new identity to their liking.

Big List of Features and How to Get Them

Aside from all the interesting options, you can also have a Name that grants you advantage on something related to how you got the Name, which I won't list here for now. I'm not sure I'm happy with this list at all, but this post is already getting very long, it'll do for now.

Features from Achievement

  • Danger Sense: Advantage when surprised in combat intuitive. 
    • Gained from the reputation of miraculously surviving an attack.
  • Brave: You don't need to make moral checks on anything less terrifying than a dragon.
    • Gained from showing bravery.
  • Favored Enemy: Attacks against a certain type of foe are enhanced.
    • Gained by committing war crimes against you're favored enemy.
  • Oath Breaker: You can fake taking an oath or signing a contract without giving the slightest indication of doing so, and are immune to magical retribution from doing so.
    • Gained from breaking an important oath.
  • Vampire: Gain 1 ration from 1 Strength of blood drained from the coerced.
    • Gained from great acts of cruelty and exploiting people.

Professional Secrets and Arcane Practices

If not stated otherwise, you need to go to a school or a master who has it.
  • Incantations: See Incantations section. These are all separate features that follow the same rules.
    • Compel: See Incantations section.
    • Call: See Incantations section.
    • Shift: See Incantations section.
    • Dub: See Incantations section.
    • Erase: See Incantations section.
  • Shadow Art: See my previous post. These are all separate features that follow the same rules.
    • Domain: See my previous post.
    • Edict: See my previous post.
    • Conjuring: See my previous post.
    • Enchantment See my previous post.
  • Burn Essence: See my previous post, but with the added not that it works with different magical arts at different price ranges. It's effectively a "cause random undirected magic" power.
  • Medicine: You know how to treat wounds, and what herbs and substances do what to the body. Can preform surgery.
  • Blacksmithing: You can forge things with metal given a forge.
  • Literacy: You can read and write and read between the lines of complicated texts.
  • Misdirection: You don't need to roll for subterfuge or slight of hand if you're target has their attention on something not directly related to what you're messing with.
  • Bushcraft: Can track and forage with advantage or something more mechanically appropriate if you have more details wilderness rules.
  • Pact Binder: If you mediate an agreement or contract between two parties, it's metaphysically binding. If someone from one side breaks it they take 1d10 damage and the other party knows instantly.
    • You can also gain this if you successfully mediate a conflict between two forces.
  • Animal Handling: With a steady gaze and calm voice you can calm animals you have no right to calm. With time to can train calm animals.


  • Turning: Weak Undead will flee from you. Stronger Undead get a save not to.
    • Gained from a ritual in dedication to the god of undead-hating.


  • Liar: Cannot tell the blunt truth.
  • Coward: Always fail moral checks.
  • Spineless: Cannot go against a direct Order, but Advantage when following them.


  • People generally give their secondary Names or powerless names to strangers, but will give their True Names once trust is earned.
    • This is convenient, because we all refer to random npcs by their profession or allegiances anyway. The GM doesn't need to come up with any names untill the players take an interest in a particular character.
  • People without True Names can continue existing for a long time in large cities or on the road without anyone noticing, and they inevitable snap and go mad.
  • Spys will send each other messages inlaid with secret commands that cause them to  write out a secret message for the spy to read. Once they wrote it out, they burn it to keep it secret.
  • The barbarians are nervous about the whole writing thing for completely sane and valid reasons.
  • More literate people are more vulnerable to incantations.
  • InfoSec Witches fight secret wars with Name-Stealing Sorcerers.
  • Fairies can mess with you're Name effortlessly and will do so capriciously.

*This is HP loss, which represents exhaustion from near misses. HP spent to craft things isn't tracked and doesn't actually matter, except to say that craftsmen are more vulnerable right after they finished something. I'm also going to rename HP to Stamina when I write my Oddhack, so that spending it is clearly exerting yourself.
**The design goal of ItO is minimalism not verisimilitude but shh...

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Shadow Magic

The spiteful Sun glares down on us all with he's aloof and amused smile. He is so great that he's power is felt merely from he's presence. The reason why he's rays radiate into arms is because everything the Sun sees, the Sun controls. For such a being, the two are identical. However, this isn't complete omnipresence, because where the sunlight doesn't touch, the sun holds no domain. Within each shadow is an unsupervised zone out of the grasp the celestial spheres but too small and isolated for chthonic powers to claim. Once you know this you can use this loophole, you can leverage it for your self, and once you've practiced that long enought, you can control it, and if you can control it that you can be Onto A GOD... within an area between a few to 60 feet demanding on time of day and if the weather allows.

This is intended as a replacement for the archetype of the fantasy wizard for my yet unnamed setting. Well, partially, there are are other magical arts that I have yet to write up that are meant to be complimentary to this one, and Mancy exists in the setting as it's own thing. Spell ferrets still exist in the world. It will make sense when I write all the various things out and organise them properly.

This was made with Into the Odd in mind, with my own leveling system that I have haven't gotten to writing down yet, but will soon. I might trash that idea in the end. Any way.

Ironic that how I messed up the lighting in this drawing.

Shadow Caster:

When you become a Shadow Caster you start with Domain, Burn Essence and One of the 3 Shadow Arts.


You have subtly control over what is in you're shadow, allowing you to cause minor spooky stuff to happen inside it at will. If you're shadow overlaps with a large unlit area, the energy disperses making you're Domain not work and causing all Shadow Arts preformed to cause vague spooky stuff instead.
*Any action or attack against you from within you're shadow has disadvantage or is deprived respectfully.
*You get advantage against anyone within you're shadow.
*If someone dies within you're shadow, than their spirit is stuck in there and has the ability to cause spooky stuff and warp the shape of the shadow. If you're shadow overlaps with an unlit area, spirits can escape from it, should they want to.
*Arcanum and Spells have their range extended as far and wide as you're shadow. Within reason.

Burn Essence: 

You can consume parts of you're self by spending hit points or any attribute points to power you're magic according to the table below. Burning yourself causes you to age rapidly and shrivel up.  You can burn more essence than than the amount listed on the table to increase the power of a casting. You can also burn essence without a goal to make intense spooky shit happen.
ConcentrationAs long as you Focus
on it
Will vanish if seen by the sun.Size of head.Instantly lighting
 a Candle
1 Hp BurnedTo the next
Sunset or Sunrise
Will vanish if convinced
it doesn't exist
Half of a PersonInstantly lighting
a Campfire
1 Attribute BurnedIndefiniteWill vanish if convinced
it doesn't exist 
Size of a PersonInstantly setting
a Wagon on Fire
5 Attribute BurnedPermanent.It's Real now. Edicts
become part of a person's soul.
Anything that is in
you're shadow
Instantly incinerating
 a Wagon

Shadow Arts:


You can give up to 7 word command to something or someone within you're shadow. They are under the effect of the Edict for a Duration. Edicts has Existence equal to their Duration. Normal creatures get will saves, erratic ones like undead, demons, shapeshifters, wizards and emotionally distressed people don't. Inanimate objects don't get a save, they either follow Edicts or don't depending on Scope.


You can create illusions, phantasms and glamours within you're shadow. They act exactly like real thing, except that they are limited by Existence and Duration. You can conjure not particularly intelligent creatures, disguises that cover the surface of something with a different surface and so forth.


You can infuse part of you're self into an object or a shadow. The enchantment has Duration and Power while effecting something with Scope. It either allows you to create a random arcanum using something like the Maze Rats spell generator or allows you to place some function of what you can do into an object. Like losing sight in one eye to allow you to see through a brick or giving up speech to make a statue speak. The function will return to you once the duration is up. Enchantments that burn attribute points are downtime activities.

Design Intent:

If you've read my blog, you'd already know that I'm somewhat hung-up on ideas of magic and technology and natural rules of the world. The intention with this system is that it's what comes about as a result of the natural laws of the fictional universe I'm making. The rules that this class relies on are eluded to in the flavor intro and mechanical rules but directly spelled out. Hopefully they don't need to be directly spelled out, as they are fairly intuitive and grokkable.
Another intention of this design is to make environmental conditions an important part of the strategy. It matters for a caster if the it's sunny, what time of day it is and so on. If the conditions are just perfect than you can put very strong foes to their knees, but if they are slightly off than you can easily get screwed, so ambushes and Combat As War is the best way to go, if the plan does fail you can go nuclear by burning you're self entirely. Effective casters also need teamwork to be most effective, someone to carry and angle the torch, meatshields that can protect them after they burned essence to pull off some big effect and so on. Arrogant and uncareful casters can easily be defeated by a foe that's clever or lucky and doesn't have any mojo. To sum it up, I want knives in the back to really cramp these wizard's styles, both in when the knife holder is a player and an NPC.
Edicts are meant to make the caster intimidating and domineering presences when they can catch someone.
The purpose of having those that die in you're shadow getting stuck in your shadow is twofold. First is to give a consequence to commanding someone to commit suicide that is more interesting than denying the option, because if the ghost of someone you killed is stuck in you're shadow, they are not going to mess with you're magic and that's something you'll have to deal with. The second is it allows for the trope of "shadow does something else than the body" without just giving that ability to the player, because that would lessen the need for wacky lamp contraptions that change lighting angles. You can control you're shadow indirectly if kill a dog within you're shadow, than train the ex-dog to follow you're commands to stretch and warp in whatever way you need. But a dog needs treats to be trained, but what do you feed a ghost dog? Why you burn hit points for it of course, what could go wrong! Thus you can have both crazy lamp contraptions and casters sicing commanding their shadows to do things, and both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Conjurings being vanishible by convincing them they don't exist was stolen from Martin O, for the reason that I find the idea quite amusing and having unsettling implications when it's also the same power that allows you to create real things from mid air. It supports the theme of having a blurred line between reality and artifice, sorcerer and charlatan which I am partial to.

World Building Implications and Tangents

  • Wizards wear tall pointy hats and bellowing cloaks to have longer shadows.
    • Wizards have towers for the same purpose. Enchanting a tower in it's construction will make it on some level a part of the wizard.
      • Wizard towers take a lot of money to build, as such they are usually implements of war and are feared as such.
      • If a wizard dies than the expensive expensive tower will be useless. This is solved by a ritual where a wizard's name and beard are passed down to an apprentice. The Beards of the greatest tower wizards are cultivated through generations.
      • Some wizard towers are more tower than wizard.
  • In the mountains there is a magical tradition that casts shadows using gliders. Despite having no means of propulsion the gliders have great maneuverability as they can conjure wind from beneath them, and they can terrorize their enemies with impunity. (This idea originally came from Spiraxo on the OSR discord.)
    • Dragons and ravens are also known for the use of aerial shadow casting.
  • You can buy potions that have wondrous effects but can't be exposed to the Sun. So you need to drink it carefully and it will fail if you spit or bleed.
  • There are illusionary people who don't know their illusions.
  • In some cultures it's impolite to step on someone's shadow and in others it's impolite to cast you're shadow on someone.
  • Homunculus are small because artificially making a fully sized human would is to dangerous.
  • Casters who have enchanted marionette minions mock those who use enchanted skeletons as being cheap, while the later call the former pretensions.
  • Magic items are weird and at times stupid because their creators don't really get to design them.
  • The Fey are able to weave enchantments and conjure wonders without withering before everyone's eyes.
    • Fools try to capture and eat them. Generally doesn't go well.
  • You can Curse Flesh just be being very angry.
  • There is a Caster who was able to survive underground by conjuring food for himself to eat. Now he cannot leave the caves because if he does than he'll disappear due to many months already having pasted out in the world. 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Secret Santicorn: Kowloon Planet, High Rise Defenses and more.

This is for Michael Bacon I don't know where I'm going with this, so I'll try something.

D12 Terrifying Defenses.
  1. Retractable Spikes. They stab out when they sense something is there and slide back in when they sense weight on them. So you can't use them for climbing.
  2. Near friction-less Wall. Not deadly by itself but impassible and moving around it leads you into more terrible things.
  3. Automated Turrets, makes Swiss-cheese out of you.
  4. Drones with little dart guns that shoot neurotoxins into you're face. Induces seizures while up on the wall or causes you to become paralyzed and stuck until someone pries you off, if they can do it before you're found.
  5. Acid is poured down the side of the building, eats away at anything organic and most metals.
  6. Wall springs out Catapulting you through the air. Reroll this if it's on one of the lower levels.
  7. This section of wall has a series of metal bands on it, they have high voltage running through them.
  8. Sonic Cannon, powerful enought to blast holes through concrete, will make you're remains unrecognizable.
  9. An unreasonable amount of buzz saws.
  10. Pressurized air shoots out of a hidden vent, launching you off the building. Reroll if on one of the lower levels.
  11. Microscopic needles on the walls inject you with a fast acting poison and horrifying poison.
  12. A dude throwing rocks, scrap and literal shit from the roof, can't beat the classics. (He's also conveniently a look out who can call for back up if you get past the automated defenses.

D12 Treasures on Kowloon Planet
  1. A Glock.
  2. A packet of dinosaur egg oatmeal. Like they look like eggs when they dissolve there's these little dinosaurs. Probably long stale by this point, that doesn't matter it's a status symbol to have a packet.
  3. A 3-D printer that prints clips for holding clothes together. You're not sure how much plastic it's got left but even this is unbelievably useful.
  4. A working Alarm Clock.
  5. A high end prosthetic leg, custom fit for someone long dead.
  6. A solar panel.
  7. A mess of well preserved wires and miscellaneous electronic pieces. Miraculously untouched by the years really.
  8.  A lawn mower. 
  9. A Computer with "Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress" Version 1.2 on it. It is clearly a source of divination and occult secrets. 
  10. A laptop with 3D modeling software on it. 
  11. A Geiger Counter 
  12. A Jacket that is completely water proof and seems to react to the wearer for greater comfort.
I feel like some of the defenses feel a bit cartoony and the treasures feel more post-apocalpsy than si-fiy, so here is a third table free of charge. (Which doesn't make sense due to this being a gift, but that's beside the point.)

D12 Myths, Beliefs and Superstitions in the Ruined Cities.
  1. Once upon a time the earth was soft, but just as a child becomes harder and more wrinkly as they grow older, so did the land.
  2. Always be respectful to vending machines, it is bad luck to harm them.
  3. The ancients we're creatures of illusion and glamour. They they are still out there living below the hills and among the stars.
  4. The artifacts and craft that are to delicate to be built by human hand were made by gnomes, you can catch one and force it to make you something if it's hands are tied with string.
  5. It is bad luck to go to the Cursed Place. You're children will be born monsters if you go to the Cursed Place. You're name wither off you and everyone will forget you if you go to the Cursed Place.
  6. If you give you're name to the machines, the gnomes will have it.
  7. You can weather the Cursed Place if you carry a anointed flashlight in you're hand.
  8. If someone dies inside a building in their sleep, it's because an ancient tried to wake them.
  9. Rats know always know how to get to safety.
  10. Always keep both feet firmly on the ground when using a gun, to do otherwise is to invite the gun to possess you.
  11. The ancients made guns by placing the souls of murders in them. Never trust one.
  12. God speaks to us through computers. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

More of An Alignment System

Maybe I should come up with a name for it, but anyway sense I've written my alignment post I've had more thoughts on it. I still haven't playtested it yet so hopefully there isn't a issue at the core of this idea that will cause this additional post to be for naught once it's thrown into the field. Regardless...
Do you know how to illustrate a cosmic force without using squiggly lines? Because I don't.

So I've read this interesting take on divination on Mastered by Marquis's blog and decided to mash it together with my alignment system. Rules wise this doesn't change anything, but justifies how Mancy works. Mancy is the practice that allows you to talk with the Power you're aligned to and ask it questions(in my last post I called them "Alignments" but "Powers" makes more sense after someone else used it). Since Powers usually "thinks" in favor of those it is aligned with, the Power will freely give answers to the person. The problem is that elemental forces and abstract ideals are not people and do not "think" like people, so there is a significant barrier in communication between the two. Vague and cryptic prophesy is the result of translation error, where either the Power poorly understood the question or misinterpreted how much the diviner understood. The diviner gets worse results the more they divine in a single day, ironically, because they start thinking more in tune with their Power. If a part of you're mind is thinking in Ocean or Law, it isn't able to think in person and the information more difficult to use, even if part of your brain understands it better. It's nothing a good night's sleep can't fix thought. Be warned if you start using it excessively (by divining 6 or more times each day for a while) you can permanently gain decreased maximum result.

Now you may be wondering, if mancy allows you to ask informative questions of things greater than man, than can it be used to ask a Power to do something? I don't see a reason why not, I'd say the rules are the same as for gathering information but the Divination Die is ruled on this table instead, and it counts as a preformed mancy.

1: The Power interprets you're request in the worst way possible. Everyone at the table is free to suggest what could go wrong and the terriblest result happens.
2-3: The Power misinterprets what you wanted to happen and it goes bad.
4: The Power doesn't understand what your request, so just ignores it. Nothing happens.
5: The Power misunderstands what you want, and does something fairly harmless instead. It's obviously supernatural and NPCs will react accordingly thought.
6: The Power does exactly what you told it to do. This only has a risk of monkey-pawing you if you are hurrying.
7+: The Power does exactly what you want it to do, with no if, or buts.

Asking a Power to do something is generally a very bad idea, so most sensible diviners will go out of their way to avoid doing so. When they do request the great powers the results are always memorable, so people assume that's what diviners do all the time.

World Building Implications:
  • Necromancers as respectablish profession for contacting those who have pasted away.
    • The necromancer is able to contact the dead thought the medium of their Power, "inside" of which the spirits of people end up.
  • Wizards Know Something You Don't.
    • Wizards don't understand nearly as much as they'd like you to believe.
      • They will be blindsided by both their personal biases and the bias of the Power they consult.
  • There is good reason to be weary about attacking the court magician even if they just lounge around all day and look at the stars periodically.
  • Ambitious magic users scheme about many things.
  • A few famous oracles are no longer people, just vessels that spout prophesy and the thoughts of great alien minds.
  • People bind minor imps to act as pocket sized diviners, this results in predictions that are both more understandable and less accurate.
    • As a GM roll a d6 behind a screen. The lower the more the imp twists the truth to their advantage.
  • Someone who divines with cards could be aligned with the Game, or with something else, as the major arcana are based around astrology. You can figure this out by how the person talks about their prediction.
    • e.g. If they use words like "piece" or "move" when referring to you're future, they are likely Game aligned.
  • Mystic hobos that know everything that can appear anywhere in the city.
  • Fortune Tellers are dangerous.

Design Notes:
As I'm a Pratchett fan I want to make rules that encourage Granny Weatherwax play.  Which entails having magical powers and not using them. Having magical powers and not using them doesn't sound that fun thought, so I wrote explicit magical powers to be highly risky. You'd ask the a Power of something if either you have a clever plan that you've carefully laid out (and would you look at that, the normal use of mancy is an information gathering tool, a helpful thing for forming clever plans), which is the kind of combat-as-war play that the OSR is based around, or as a Hail-Mary when cornered. Because seeing you're wizard get exploded from tampering with powers beyond his control is it's own reward, and if that wizard does somehow make it out alive, than it's surprising. This is intended to exist along side Arcanum as a more flexible but less reliable power.

Arnold's Orcs in this system always hate their aligned Power. They curse it and spit at it for what it, an orc who doesn't hate the Power is not really an orc.(the exception is Family, but that is hidden by the much louder other Power) Sky is popular because that's where the gods are. The Show is also popular because that's what the gods make of their lives. War is also a good bet when it comes to orcs. It may not seem like it, but orcs hate War, there are not enought words to describe how much they hate it.
Void monks practice the Mancy of Nothing. Speaking with Nothing never gets you any information, however if you do it enough than you you're mind will be eroded away, which is the point for void monks.

People try to align with Everything, and become one with the universe. The Mancy of Everything is about as useful as the Mancy of Nothing, but for precisely the opposite reason. When connecting to Everything there is to much information for a brain to make any use of. It also take a lot more time to do than mancy usually does. A character who's becoming one with the universe can't be adventuring at the same time.

Alignment Develpment
A person's alignment grows and changes with them as a person. Often rapidly as a child and more slowly with adults. When a child is in the womb they are first aligned to their Mom, who greater beyond comprehension at this stage. Than when they are born and start learning about the world, it expands from Mom to Family and/or Home and spirals out in any number of directions from there. Usually children pick up their parent's alignment along with all the beliefs and values that a family instills in them. Teenage rebellion often relates to a change in view on an aligned Power rather than a change to a different force.

Further Quibblings
Sea and Ocean would be the same Power viewed from slightly different angles as they refer to the same thing. Same with the Show or the Spectacle or the Play, it's all related to the central concept of viewing the world through the lens of performance. I think it's fine to refer to the same Power by multiple names, as many of these concepts are to large to be contained within a single name. There are some places where you could argue either way if something is the same Power. For example, Mountain and Earth can be considered the same. Both relate to stone and both are things dwarves would be aligned to. However, on the other hand by associating the two, you're associating surface dwelling mountain goats with underground creatures like the horrible things in the Underdark. It all depends on what feels right to you and you're players. Another example is that I won't align all the fish in the sea with the Sea, because, everyone who lives on land isn't aligned with it either. However you could rule it either way.

In my mind there are several ways you could organize the Powers in a setting. Either have a fluid and disorganized mess of various concepts and (super/un-)natural forces like I've been describing in the two posts on the topic, or you could have a carefully structured set of Powers. Something like MtG Colors or Homestuck Aspects, or even D&D's alignment chart that I dread so much. Both of the former tie concepts with physical things and would give the world an distinctive flare than if a confusing hodge-podge is used, but also doesn't allow alignment to be as personally significant for almost all characters. I am not yet sold on either direction for this, and in retrospect I definitely had Aspects in the back of my head when writing the original post.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire Answering

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me: This post. For it exemplifies the concept of player induced shenanigans.
2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark: If it doesn't work, fix it.
3. Best OSR module/supplement:
I'm not sure I haven't used many of them, I guess Maze of the Blue Medusa, as it's the one I both have and actually run with some success. From what I've heard of it, Yoo-Suin is something I'd like, I should get around to getting my hands on it.
4. My favorite house rule (by someone else): My favorite rule is the rule by Chris McDowell that all attacks hit. It is so simple and elegant and eliminates an aspect of the game that I frankly can't care less about. Technically, the it's the official rule in Chris's game Into the Odd but all rules are house rules from the right perspective.

5. How I found out about the OSR: Arnold's Goblin Punch was the first OSR blog I came across, the rest were accessed via his blog roll.
6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy: Um, blogs with random tables? This is the first one that jumps to my mind.
7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers: I generally talk to people via Discord. Blogs would be great if I was able to get notifications about comment threads I'm following.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games: This blog, and um, I don't know. I have a tumblr for art purposes.
9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough: The real powers of the wizard isn't bending the universe to their will, it's convincing everyone else that they do. (Nobody appreciates it because I haven't dedicated a full post to it, but it won't click with most people the way it does with me.)
10. My favorite non-OSR RPG: Unknown Armies. It's a game that captures the fear of having agency that we don't see nearly enought. Also it has the most realistic "urban wizards" in my opinion.
11. Why I like OSR stuff  I want to make Secondary Worlds according to Tolkien's terminology. Doing it through books/movies/comics/etc requires me to write plot, video games require a lot of man power to make a living world and other rpg systems care about different things. With OSR it's easier to focus on presenting a world and not worry about stuff I'm not interested in. I also appreciate the DIY spirit of tinkering that is visible on display.
12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:Here's a cool blog which shows a lot of care put into the process of running a game. Here's another cool blog that shows another care with put into putting the medieval into the game and sometimes running really hard sci-fi.
13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be: Bastionland, all the posts there are succinct and strike at the core of things. 
14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is: My post about playing dead people.
15. I'm currently running/playing: I'm currently playing two play by posts in the Discord I previously mentioned.
16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because: I use ItO where there aren't ACs.
17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice:
Technically it's a gif, sue me.

I apologize for the formatting nonsense, I don't know what's causing it.

Friday, September 28, 2018

An Alignment System

I greatly despise the alignment grid, I could go into detail but many others have succinctly pointed out it's myriad of issues already. I feel better about the original three option one, but grand cosmic conflicts aren't something that has grabbed me that much. My brain has formulated a system that is grown from the personality determining parts the gird has grown over the years and taken into a completely different direction.

An Alignment System

People don't exist as islands, they cannot exist in isolation. They require a connection to something beyond them to function, it's simply how they are wired. This connection is refereed to as alignment, it is a mystical pull between an individual and something greater and usually somewhat abstract force that greatly influences their life. Alignment is written on a person's character sheet like it in usual D&D and has the three following effects on a character.
  • Alignment Shapes Character: The alignment of a character is a central pillar around which their personality is built. This doesn't mean that everyone aligned with the same things have similar personalities, only that they all care about the same thing. The connection between a character and their alignment can be reverent, matter-of-factly, antagonistic, subconscious, positive, it doesn't matter as long as it's important. A authoritarian and an anarchist can both be aligned to Law just in different ways. The sailor who cannot swim and the mermaid tempting him beneath the waves can both be aligned with the Sea.
    • Players are free to interpret their alignment any way they wish. They can have as shallow or complicated relation with it as they like.
    • Everyone with shared alignment shares a kind of kinship and understanding between each other. Which results in them either getting along splendidly or terribly.
      • Reaction rolls where someone talks to someone of the same alignment are shifted one step away from the neutral response. In ItO make the reaction roll have more extreme results.
    • When writing your alignment feel free to include and adjective to describe your relationship with it. "True Lawful", "Begrudgingly Lawful", "Un-Lawful" Go nuts.
  • Character Shapes Alignment: A character's alignment will favor them due to the kinship between them. These are subtle and unreliable shifts of fate that could easily pass off as coincidence to the skeptical. Things like managing to was ashore alive rather than dead for the Ocean, not getting lost in your city if your're aligned with your City, having a knack for not getting small burns for Fire. You can have consistent and blatant protections and powers related to your alignment but that requires sacrifice.
    • Alignment is a valid reason to rule some things in a character's favor, but it's still within mundane and normal limits.
      • If the players ask, they know if they have favor. The character will feel it intuitively.
    • The sacrifices can justify magical(or psychic,mystical, etc.) class powers, be part of an ItO style Order or Mark.
      • Needless to say, make it a serious Dilemma. 
  • Destined Death: As a character's life is intertwined with their alignment, so must their death be. This doesn't mean that you can't die in a way unrelated to your alignment, but it does mean if you do than they will become restless, and become unquiet dead until they are properly buried. This is one of the purposes of burial ceremonies.
    • Surprise, this was secretly a continuation of my previous post all along!
Your alignment can change and evolve if you have a significant life experience, but generally it's going to be a change in your relationship with the alignment not switching to a completely different one. It should be rare and impactful enought to be ruled on a case by case basis. Maybe you can have up to two alignments per character? I don't know maybe one is complicated enough. If two alignments are on one character than the destined death would probably involve them both.

Un-Definitive List of Alignments:
Kind of Person Boons Proper Deaths
1. Family
A normal person who cares about the people closest to them. A lost son. Being able to accurately predict things about your family, having a better time talking with them. Dying to save one's family. Dying surrounded by your loved ones. Funeral with all of them attending.
2. Home
Someone who loves the place they lived. Someone who is indebted to where they live. Knowing if something is wrong and not as it should be. Being buried at home, possibly with an apple tree planted on top.
3. The City
Someone who lived in the city all their lives, and connects with it. Sam Vimes basically. Navigating through confusing streets or losing someone tailing you. Being buried within the city's cemetery or rotting in it's gutter depending on your class.

4. A Community 
Someone who extends empathy towards a group beyond their family or a pariah of said group. Getting a reaction you want out a crowd from this community. Dying for the benefit or despair of a community. Being buried by their traditions.
5. A Dream
Someone with a grand goal that they strive towards, or a cynic who lost that drive, but can't let it go. Convincing others that the dream is a good/bad idea. Ignoring the penalty of sleep deprivation for short while.  Dying with the dream achieved or handed off for someone else to do it. Dying secure in the futility of doing so.
6. Love
A romantic who has found true love or someone who vehemently denys such a concept. Somehow guessing the vague direction of where one's love is. Being buried side by side. Going full Romeo and Juliet is only necessary if your a teenager.
7. Law
Someone who believes in the value of order or someone preoccupied with determinism. Getting somewhere on time. Dying without any unfinished business or loose ends. A neat and formal funeral. 
8. Chaos
Someone who believes in personal freedom or someone painfully aware and afraid of Murphy's Law. Being able to find something in your own messy room. Dying unbound from some bullshit. Who cares about the funeral.

9. The Game
Someone who views life like it's a game, and people as players in it. Gamblers, Machiavellian schemers, the meta aware.

A knack for understanding rules. This soul will rest if win or lose, they've played well.
10. The Show
Those who see the world as a spectacle. Actors, glory seeking leaders, bards, storytellers.

A knack for the dramatic. What matters is that there is a good story around it.
11. The Open Road
Wanderers, traveling merchants, drifters and postman. People who can't settle down. Being able to sleep in traveling scenarios, Good sense of direction. Dying while traveling. Funeral treated like a pit stop for another journey.

12. The Sea
Sailors, sea creatures, coastal people. Those drawn to the sea.

Being able to hold your breath for longer. Drowning. Burial at sea.
13. The Earth
Dwarves, miners, spelunkers. Those who aren't afraid of going into the Veins of the Earth or are fascinated in their fear of it.  Not falling to panicked claustrophobia. Dying in a ravine. Being buried in the ground.
14. The Sky
Airheads, Blue Folk, pilots. Those who look at the sky's big wideness with wonder.
Feeling changes in the weather ahead of time.
Decomposing under the open air. Ashes scattered to the wind. Throwing a corpse from a really high cliff.
15. Fire
Pyromaniacs, smiths and fire fighters. People who can stare at an open flame for hours. A knack for avoiding minor burns and handling hot objects. Cremation, intended or otherwise. Pyres.
16. A Forest.
Druids, lumberjacks, elves, rangers. Trees and and forest critters. Not getting lost in the woods, guessing which berries are poisonous. Decomposing in the woods. Having one's body nourish a tree.
17. The Sun
Early birds, outdoorsy people. Shockingly The Children of the Sun. Getting a nice tan rather than terrible burns. The service is held during the day, at a higher elevation preferably.
18. The Moon
Werewolves, literal lunatics, people who's emotions are influenced by the pull of the moon. The witches that dance naked under moon light. Night owls.

A bit of luck under the moonlight. The service done under the moon's glow.
19. Darkness
Creatures of the night, secretive folk, weirdos who always wear black. Also those never stopped fearing bogeymen under closets.

Good night vision, tendency to blend in well into darkness. Rest the body somewhere nice and dark. Even better if it's hidden.
20. None- no great cosmic connection.
Listless and adrift. A person who is isolated and alone. Nothing, except they aren't registered by alignment based divination. There isn't one. They are bound to be a aimless specter.

Ideally, the table that is properly weighted so that more adventurer friendly alignments would show up more often than the less friendly ones. However since this is a un-definitive list, it's more meant to give you a gist of what the the alignments entails. The Boons table is meant to bring up examples rather than explicit bonuses, it's also the thing that is going to need the most playtesting, telling people to "adjust for taste" is a bit of a cope out. Even with the OSR's DIY mentality a system should have knobs to adjust and details to ignore.

World Building Implications:

  • Rather than a setting with a grand cosmic war, it leads to a complicated and messy world with various forces and people that care about their own personal problems and bump heads through that.
  • Aside from violence, the dead can be laid to rest by figuring out who they were as a person and by honoring them correctly.
    • Shamans, exorcists and so forth do this professionally.
  • Funeral rites are made important in a way that is obvious to players.
    • There is knobs and options in what they do that can be messed with, space for both hijinks and discovery.
  • Knowing things about someone's personality can give you insight in how to mess with them magically or how you don't want to mess with them.
  • Beings of the same alignment have come into conflict and that can be exploited by third parties.
  • The line between the mundane and the supernatural is more of a gradient that a solid line.
    • Does a mother tear someone to pieces in defense of her children because of a sudden burst of adrenaline or due by mystically evoking that it's her Family? Does this matter, is there actually a difference between the two.
    • Is that guy just very good at acting or is he's performance taping into something divine.
    • Magic is less of it's own force, but more what happens at the extremes of other forces.
      • That guy isn't lighting a fire without any implements because he's manipulating the aether, but because Fire likes him a lot.
      • There isn't a correct Unifed Theory of Magic, same way there isn't a Unifed Theory of Science.
      • Spells have alignments, that's why they can manipulate the world.
  • Friendship power is a thing.
  • Some great monsters are the direct decedents of great forces, and killing them will is tricky because of it.
  • The nature of these forces, whether they are beings, mediums we exist in, both, neither so forth, is the great topic of theological debate in the world.

Design Notes:
Like my last post this is more of synthesis of various tropes and ideas rather than anything new. It also associates these common tropes with each other in a way that would not be obvious otherwise. As a game mechanic it leans the game closer to storygame, by giving more focus to the internal lives of the characters. It also establishes relationships between various npcs and monsters that can be interacted with in interesting ways, so it doesn't stray to far from OSR design. Plus, it adds a fun element of character identity. There are a lot of questions about how this would work. How many alignments does a person get? Is it really necessary to have both Law and Chaos if you can have an antagonistic to either of them? Should alignments be more organised? Are some of these a bit too redundant? Is this system to convoluted to explain to people at the table when everyone is sitting around and making their characters?